regular-article-logo Saturday, 15 June 2024

Champions League: We made history, emotional Manchester City players hail treble success

Grealish has been one of City’s standout performers this season and is overcome with emotion at the final whistle

Reuters, AP/PTI Istanbul Published 12.06.23, 05:03 AM
Ilkay Gundogan.

Ilkay Gundogan. Twitter

Manchester City must be considered one of football's heavyweight clubs after winning the Champions League to complete a rare treble, captain Ilkay Gundogan said, while a teary-eyed Jack Grealish hailed manager Pep Guardiola as a "genius".

Players were in tears after Rodri's emphatic second-half goal against Inter Milan in the final secured a 1-0 victory and City's first Champions League title on Saturday, having wrapped up the Premier League and FA Cup last month.


"Unbelievable. Difficult to put anything in words. Today (Saturday), we made history," Gundogan told BT Sport. "This team deserves the highest recognition and winning the Champions League elevates us to the very top of the game.

"We knew everyone was talking about the treble. The pressure was there, but this team is built to handle the pressure in the best possible way."

Grealish, who joined City from Aston Villa for $126 million in 2021, has been one of City's standout performers this season and was overcome with emotion at the final whistle.

"This is what you work your whole life for. I'm just so happy," Grealish said. "I was awful but I don't care.

"I've just said to (Guardiola): 'I want to thank you because you've made this happen for me. You put so much faith in me, buying me for a lot of money.' Even last year when I was playing crap he stayed there with me and this year he's given me that platform... He's just a genius."

Striker Erling Haaland has already set his sights on more success next season, warning rivals that a treble has not satisfied his appetite for trophies after spearheading City's attack with 52 goals this season.

"In my wildest dreams I would never think of this," Haaland said. "After a couple of days when this settles a bit and this feeling of winning this trophy, I will want to do it again for sure."

City got the job done without playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, who was consoled by Haaland and his teammates when he was forced off with a hamstring injury in the first half.

"It's what I've been fighting for for many, many years," De Bruyne told reporters. "It's incredible we've been able to achieve that with City.

"It's the first one in the history of the club. We'll always be associated with the club in that way. It's really special."

De Bruyne's right thigh was heavily strapped because of a hamstring injury, and he said after the game that it's an issue he's been struggling with for a while.

“It's been a hard two months for me, I've had a lot of issues with my hamstring,” De Bruyne said. “It snapped.”

That didn't stop him leaping off the bench to run and celebrate when Rodri carefully placed his shot from 15 yards into the Inter goal in the 68th minute.

And it certainly didn't stop De Bruyne running off the bench again onto the field when the final whistle blew after more than six minutes of tense stoppage time. Or from jumping up and down as captain Ilkay Gundogan raised the trophy in celebration.

When De Bruyne had to be substituted in the first half against Inter, it was the second time in three seasons the Belgian star had to come off early in the biggest club game in football. He was replaced by Phil Foden.

Two years ago, he lasted an hour before he sustained a serious facial injury in a final that City lost 1-0 to Chelsea.

Follow us on: